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(Toronto) As Ontarians continue to express record levels of anxiety over the quality of their drinking water, the City of Toronto today proceeds with staffing reductions at its filtration and sewage treatment plants.

Members of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, Local 416, CUPE, held a Water Watch rally today at the Humber Treatment Plant, on the shores of Lake Ontario, to protest the staff cuts and warn Torontonians about these changes to their water system.

Says Local 416 Vice-president Bill Guthrie, The City has gone ahead with a program called Works Best Practices (WBP) which is a fancy term theyre using for staff cuts. What they call finding efficiencies, we call gambling with the citys water supply.

Guthrie says, This program will see a reduction of approximately 45% of employees in the Water Pollution Control and Water Supply by the end of 2003.

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan, who spoke at todays Water Watch rally says, these workers have been supplying the people of Toronto with safe, clean drinking water since 1908! We will be losing over 400 workers in this crucial service area by the time these staff reductions are done.

Ryan told the lakeside rally, Torontonians need to know that we are concerned about the impact these changes will have on the quality of effluent, or treated sewage, which is pumped out in to the lake. But this is the same place we get our drinking water from.

The civic workers union is reminding Torontonians that theres an election on November 13 and to ask their candidates where they stand on the issue of water quality, and in particular moves by some elected officials to try and set up a water and wasterwater operation separate from the City.

Just last week, there was a motion at city council to set up a separate organization to run the citys water and wastewater system which would operate like a private company.

For information:

Bill Guthrie
Local 416
(416) 876-4083 (Cell)
Frank Morrissey
Local 416
Water & Wastewater Unit Chair
(416) 823-5568 (Cell)
Sid Ryan
CUPE Ontario President
(416) 299-9739 (o)
John McCracken
Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)
(416) 200-6126 (Cell)
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